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ANA and lawsuits just go together?


News of Larry Shepherd’s lawsuit against the American Numismatic Association certainly has to be disheartening for members who had thought that perhaps a period had been reached when for the first time since 2007 legal and other problems had been put behind the organization.

No such luck.

New members (are there any?) might be forgiven if they think that lawsuits and ANA just somehow go together and the latest from the former executive director is just business as usual.

Certainly it took a while for this shoe to drop. Shepherd’s employment with ANA ended in September 2011. It might take years for the suit to come to trial, draining the ANA leadership of time that might be better spent on something else, the budget of badly needed funds better spent on other things and ordinary members of their faith in our national organization.

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Perhaps Wendall Wolka and Clifford Mishler, the two governors who have announced their retirements from the board, are chuckling that they got out of Dodge just in time. Or perhaps, since they will likely be drawn into the lawsuit process anyway, they might regret having decided to leave the board at this juncture.

Since they were involved in the decision to terminate Shepherd, it might make more sense for them to go through the legal process while still sitting on the board.

So perhaps we should declare some adult version of the children’s game “olly olly oxen free,” signaling that any previously declared intent to leave the board by a sitting governor will not be held against them should they decide to stay on while the lawsuit is hanging over the organization.

Whatever they choose, the lawsuit will certainly become the subject of the election campaign that will occur in the spring and the balloting that will conclude in July. Is the lawsuit’s timing intended to do just that, or is it just a coincidence, another example of how slowly our legal process works?

What’s the average ANA member to think? I have been a member since 1978 and a life member since 1988. I sometimes don’t know what to think.

My first thought was almost a joke. I thought perhaps the ANA museum and its collection should be separately incorporated to remove these assets from legal jeopardy. But then in my more rational moments I realize that a situation like this is what ANA officers’ and directors’ insurance is for. There should be no risk to the museum.

I know the ANA will get through this as it has gotten through its other difficulties. I know that numismatics is better off with an imperfect national organization than without one at all.

But what I think is not as important as what every other member thinks. I hope this will persuade the many who do not bother to vote in the biennial elections to get off the fence and participate this time in the ANA leadership selection process.

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